8 Money Saving and Making Tips for 2014

In a few days 2014 will be here and we are excited. With some big goals planned for this upcoming year, we’re doing a little bit of work now to ensure success. We’re taking some time to find ways to bump up our income and trim our family expenses.

Increasing Your Income in 2014

Who wouldn’t like to have a little bit more money in their budget? If you’re looking to get a bump up in your income for 2014, now is the time to start.

  • Review your W-4. My husband just had Human Resources send out an email to all employees reminding them about some withholding changes in North Carolina.  It was also a good reminder for us since we haven’t reevaluated our withholding in a couple years. If you’re in the same boat, go ahead and take a few minutes and review your withholding.
  • Double-check your health insurance, flexible spending plan, and retirement benefits. Now is a great time to make sure you’re taking advantage of every opportunity to lower your tax obligations and expenses plus increase your retirement contributions. You may find a more affordable health plan that fits your family’s needs better and you can make sure you get the maximum amount of your employer’s 401 (k) match if they offer it.
  • Make money doing what you love. Do you enjoy playing the guitar, building things with your hands, or running the numbers. Check with your family, friends, and neighbors and see if you can teach or help them out for a few dollars on the side. One of our neighbors is very handy with building and we paid him for a cat box for our home. It was built better and cost less than what we saw at the stores and he got some cash doing something that he enjoyed. It was a win-win.
  • Sell your stuff. As we spruce up our place to get it ready to sell, we’ve been de-cluttering and getting rid of stuff that we hardly use or haven’t touched in years. It’s amazing how many things can pile up. By selling some of your items, you can make more room in your house and have some extra cash. Using sites like Craigslist make it easy and free to get your listing up and out there.

 Saving Money in 2014

There are some big wins you can score by optimizing your monthly bills and tackling some projects at home.

  • Winterize your home. You don’t have to spend a lot to save a lot. Make sure your home is sealed so leaks and drafts don’t drain your wallet.
  • Review your cellphone plan. Cellphone bills have become a big expense for some families. Too many people are quick to jump into a 2 year contract simply to get the latest smartphone without running the numbers. There are now some providers who offer great plans, including unlimited ones for a fraction of the big companies. Companies like Republic Wireless and Ting are offering cheap smartphone plans for around $25/month.
  • Shop around for your insurance. A few years ago we had managed to cut our car insurance in half by simply switching companies. You can now go online to find and compare plans and prices on auto, health, and life insurance. Don’t just look for the cheapest plan, look for the one that is the best value.
  • Ditch the cable bundle. With options like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Roku, your family may not need to pay for cable anymore. Even if you keep the cable on, it pays to check and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere, perhaps splitting up your bundle.

 Thoughts on Making and Saving Money in 2014

I shared some ways you can build your savings, but I’d love to have more. What are some of your money goals for next year? What do you hope to accomplish in 2014?

Elle Martinez

Elle helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second.

Comments (91) Leave your comment

  1. I did turbo tax last year and I know it’s getting late. I got some ??’s and need a # for turbo tax

    • Hi Monte,
      If you have questions you can get them answered through support when you’re online or call 1(800)4intuit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  2. I had a trailer we bought for doing host camping, a nice one. My husband developed cancer… Agent Orane from vietNam, and passed away. We only used trailer 2 times so was like new. It was a few years old, and was on our property but I guess into county easement a little, so county told me I had to move it. I was confronted asking if I wanted to sell it. Because I had been given another week to move it,,,, I agreed and signed contract for trailer to be moved to his lot. I didn’t hear from him, and then couldn’t get hold of him from phone number I had used. I called phone comnpany and phone was disconnected. I called police and reported.
    Then received a call from people who had bought trailer inquiring about title. Bottom line is it was stolen because he left with money received and no one has heard from him. I’m sure all information was bogus.
    And, the attorney I contacted checked Washington law and “if someone buys a stolen item, and doesn’t know it was stolen, it actually is theirs. So, I had a big loss.
    My questions. My tax person wasn’t sure, so didn’t do anything about it. Is there any way to claim a loss tax wise for stolen item.
    And what information would I need? Marcia

  3. I have a question, can someone answer me please?

    I am a head of houselhold with 2 dependants, my mom who is 75 and my son who is 20 years of age. He is attending school.

    He did a pet sitter job last year and he just received a 1099 from her former boss. I had already presented my income tax and received my returns. His 1099 is for about $3,500. What shall I do? or What does he need to do ? He is my dependant. Thank you!!

  4. I’ve been trying to logg on to the website to efile my taxes. It’s telling me to update my browser. That’s not working. Can you help w/this.

  5. I take care of my mother who at 82 is in an assisted living hm now. But was run out of her new home, had all her things (life long treasures) including retirement accounts taken from her. We are going on 4 yrs now fighting this in court. I have taken out several loans to help pay her rent and now 12k in rears. last year turbo tax hit us and took her refund because they said she did not make enough money to accommodate what was going out in rent. How do I help her this year? And How do I list the monies that he has cashed in with her name on it (all of it) or do I just go to an accountant and alleviate and audit here? This is such a mess. Who would do such a thing to a person at that age anyway. Why can she not just live in peace have half the home proceeds and her belongings? Can I have him and his lawyer audited?

  6. I am disabled and my husband makes 47K. between the two of us our in come is $64K. We have been making less and less money per year now and our refunds are also less and less. This year we will file for a $32.00 refund. Your company charged $22.00 for the filing so our net will be $10.00. Am I doing something wrong? We give 10 to 15% of our monthly income to charities and I was told that if I did not have this amount we would have owed taxes! I am 57 and he is 55 so we have several years to go yet. We have no savings or retirement do to medical expenses and my having to go on SSA. I pay $454.00 per month in medical premiums and over $100 on Rxs per month. How do I keep us from going back wards even further? I do get medicare but have to pay $100.00 for part A and now $312.00 for part D per month. It seems that we are spiraling out of control on someone else’s Tilt a Whorl. Any thing we can do to stop this “ride” and get a healthy income ratio again!

    • Dianne,

      You must file a tax return whether you receive a refund or pay taxes upon filing. The fee is for filing the taxes.

      If you are entering all of your medical expense and contributions in TurboTax, as well as your state income taxes, property taxes and mortgage interest, TurboTax is determining whether you can itemize deductions or if taking the standard deduction will provide the lowest tax.

      Mary Ellen

  7. Why am I charged $19.99 when I can file fed. for free? I received notice in mail saying that it is possible to file the fed. tax free

    • Hi Donald,
      Yes if you have a simple tax return, you can file your federal taxes for free and efile for free. There is a charge for your state tax return. If you make under $30,000 you can also use TurboTax Freedom Edition where your state taxes may also be free for those states that participate.
      https://turbotax.intuit.com/taxfreedom/
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  8. I noticed after reading this email that you didn’t mention anything about helping those of us who are finding ourselves in an unbelievable tax situation. My husband retired last year but Social Security gave him some information on how much he could earn working which we now know was not correct. We just learned that our Social Security is being taxed at 85% because he worked hard and made too much money. This is not fair. We are looking at a huge tax bill and probably penalties that we can not afford. We worked hard to earn the right to collect our Social Security and think it is not right to be treated this way.

  9. My 18 yr old son and I arrived in the USA august 6 and I got married on 16th. we lived with my husband and he supports us everything. can he claim me and my son for IRS from 2013? my son and I don’t have a job for a 4 and half months staying with him.

  10. I have used Turbo Tax for several years. I have one amt. from gambling winning from Mississippi and I live in Ga. I had Miss. take out Federal and State but do I have to pay Federal again for Ga.? I know I do for State. Thanks, Glenda Lawrence

  11. My husband and I purchased a beach cottage for cash in another state in 2013. Can we deduct closing costs and property taxes? We sold our house in 2012 after being in it for 26 years. We now live in an apartment in the city and state that we work in.

  12. I lost my home to foreclosure in April this year due to, among other things, a drastic increase in flood insurance and omissions by the sellers about the home being one foot too low. I already had trouble keeping up with the annual $4000 flood ins (while all around me paid only about $500 max per year) along with everything that kept breaking in the house. I put $33000 down in 2007. I couldn’t sell it with so much needed repair. A non judicial foreclosure occurred and the house sold at auction for around $118000. I’ve never received anything that says I owe the balance. Is this a loss that can be used on my 2013 income tax?

  13. I was laid off few months ago but do recieve workers comp benefits. Do I have to claim workers comp benefits when filing taxes?

  14. I HAVE 4 RENTALS. DO I HAVE TO FILE TAXES.GET A LITTLE FROM DISABILITY TO. MY WIFE FILED LAST YEAR. DIDN;T PUT ME ON IT. DIDNT THINK SHE HAS TOO. DOES SHE. SOON AS GET ALL FORMS. WILL BE USING YOUR SERVICE AGAIN. THANK YOU

  15. I paid for a private room in a hospital in 2013, my surgery is not until 2014; are these costs deductible?

  16. My daughter put a big down payment of 4,000for a wedding reception party. The deal went sour and the owner of the Restaurant refuses to refund her the money. Will she be able to claim this loss in her income tax as a ‘short capital loss’?
    Thank you for your valuable information

    • It’s unfortunate that the deal went south and she lost the money, but no, it’s not a capital loss or anything else that can be claimed on her taxes.

  17. Full disclosure, I work for a cable company. It comes down to personal choice. I don’t agree with the suggestion to cancel TV service and replace it with a cobbled together group of inferior over-the-top products. Those cost money too, and are far less convenient with less content. With so many ways to reduce household expenses, why the cable bundle? It’s a few dollars a day for instant LIVE access to hundreds of channels and the internet, which are things most people use every day. It’s might be one of the best values you get for your money. And, why pick on cable bundles and not Satellite TV with their contracts? There are nearly 40 million people with satellite TV, paying $100+ per month for that alone, often more than an entire cable bundle (with internet and phone included). If you want quality internet access and tv programming, I recommend you buy them together and earn a discount on the price. I could see a recommendation to cancel expensive add-on channels like HBO, but only if not watched regularly. Is picking on the lowly cable company really one of the 4 main tips you give on how to save money? Try reducing just a little of the money spent annually on clothing, shoes, personal trainers, eating out, going to movies… and start using coupons at the grocery store and eating leftovers. Like I said these are all personal choices. if you don’t watch TV or use the internet, I would agree. Stop paying for those things. I’m suggesting there may be other ways so you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of something most people actually use.

    • John: Glad you acknowledged working for a cable company. Elle’s suggestion to ditch the cable bundle is exactly what my wife and I are pursuing. Since they raise prices every time one of their promotional packages reaches its end, I’m pretty fed up with them. I’d much rather shop and unbundle then “eat leftovers”. They have been acting like a monopoly utility – but today’s market offers choices. One does not have to forego cable, Internet, or TV. Smart shoppers can unbundle and continue to enjoy all three. Maybe I’ll bundle my cell, and house phone and leave the cable and Internet together. Do I really need my TV to show me who’s calling – maybe I’ll just answer the phone!

    • I agree with your thoughts. The only thing that makes me crabby about the cable company is that they are advertising all over that they just spent big money to upgrade their service so we could have better quality, etc. I just found out that my cable bill is going up again. I have basic and expanded basic, internet and phone, I like the bundle one provider and one bill and I am currently spending around $150. I am just not sure I can justify spending any more money.

    • Great information, John. We have cut out going to the movie theaters and renting movies from a store to save money. We have found the convenience of cable and Video On Demand to be a much better deal. We also bundled our internet and save money on both. The cable company also has faster internet, saving us time.

    • I dropped the cable bundle and have saved sooooo much money. I kept the internet and have hulu and Netflix accounts.

    • Cutting cable is just one suggestion, I’m not trying to bash cable. I mentioned it because 1)it’s not a necessary expense like shelter or food and 2) I’ve seen and heard others mention they were watching that much television so cable was optional and a doable change.

      My other concern was the price for the services. In our area (Raleigh/Durham) these bundle deals can be big and cable is tagged along with home phone, which some people don’t even use.

      It’s not just cable, it’s also satellite, which I wrote about on my main blog.
      The gist of the second half of my post was simply to give some low hanging fruit- places where people could look and save some cash. More homes have cable/satellite than personal trainers, so I wrote about that. I’m not not personally attacking cable is you get value from it.

  18. Hi there!
    In a previous post you said that out of pocket medical expenses were deductible. So if I have health insurance through my work and my deductible is $3,000.00, I pay out of pocket up to that $3,000. Is all that deductible?

  19. i was going to purchase anew home ,but the deal fell thur,because the property had to many probems with the home and several unpaid liens against it . can i deduct the expences that i inkered trying to purchase the home?

  20. I receive Cash Aid and cal fresh. I am not sure what section is it that I need to declare this as my income to be able to do my taxes?

  21. i am waiting for my 2013 tax cd that i pay for on 11-19-2013 and never received. I paid $63 and change for this cd, and i would like to get it.

  22. I asked for, and was told it would be mailed, a CD of 2013 Turbo Tax. It has not yet arrived.
    Can you get it mailed to me?

  23. We are going to take a dollar out of our checks for every week of the year. 1 dollar the first week 2 dollars the next all the way to the end of the year.

  24. I CASHED IN A STOCK OPTION IN 2013…
    GOT A CHECK FOR 69,000$. WILL I HAVE TO PAY TAX’S ON THIS AND IF SO HOW MUCH…
    I’VE USED TURBO TAX FOR SOME YEARS NOW AND YOU HAVE ALWAYS GOT ME A REFUND. I’M SURE I’LL OWE THIS YEAR IF I HAVE TO PAY TAX’S ON THE STOCK OPTION CASH OUT…HOW WOULD I PAY WHAT I OWE TO THE I.R.S
    WOULD I PRINT OUT YOUR COMPLETED FORM AND SEND A CHECK TO THEM
    MYSELF…

    • Hi, I used to work for a big name tax franchise–how much you pay depends on your total income as well as other factors. You need the tax from (1099-DIV) to enter into TurboTax. Even while I was working there, I did my taxes with TurboTax because it’s quick and easy if you follow the directions.

    • From what I understand, you will have to claim the check amount as income and pay your usual income bracket. Let’s assume 25%, then you will owe $17,250. I would not send them a separate check, just report it on your 1040 and figure it into your usual taxes. Again, not an expert, just been doing taxes for myself for years.

    • I believe stock options will show as income and therefore you will receive a 1099 and yes there will be taxes owed. Because this amount will likely throw you into a higher tax bracket you will need to add this amount to your annual household income and determine your tax rate. Turbo Tax will handle this. Be prepared to save a portion of that $69k :)

    • I would like the answer to this question, also. I am interested in 2012 turbo tax filed return. My printer broke down and I did not save a copy.

  25. I got my info for my health insurance stating what it is per month and per year. Can I deduct this when I do my taxes next month. Thankyou Mary Walker

    • There is a % of your yearly income that your total medical expenses must reach to claim then on your taxes.( I want to say it is 7 or 8%) Turbo Tax has a screen which will guide you whether you have paid enough to claim it.

    • Only if your health insurance is not funded with pretax dollars; otherwise you will be benefitting twice. I also believe this gets added into your unreimbursed medical which has to be around 7 1/2 percent of your adjusted gross income to qualify.

    • Hi Mary,
      I am not a CPA or a professional tax preparer. Unfortunately, as an individual employee paying for health insurance – you cannot deduct the premiums. This is the big difference between securing health insurance through an employer. If your plan was purchased through an employer, they could deduct the premium pre-tax on your payroll statement, thereby avoiding any taxes. When you purchase individually, this is not an option nor are the premiums deductible on your taxes at the end of the year. Medical expenses (what you had to pay out of pocket for medical care) is deductible after a certain % threshold is met (7.5% of your adjusted gross income).

      If you are self-employed, the insurance premiums are considered a business expense and do reduce your adjusted gross income.

      Hope that helps. This is one area where the tax law should be changed.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-i-get-a-tax-deduction-for-health-insurance/

      • You are incorrect, in that you can deduct health ins premiums as individual IF you itemize and the total medical expenses exceed the threshhold amount of income, which is either 7.5% or 10%, depending on your age. The insurance cost is added to all other medical expenses to figure. If you don’t itemize, your standard deduction contains an amount estimated to be average for what most pay. Also, you have option to have HSA, which gets the income out of your taxable total.

  26. Stop smoking! If a pack of cigarettes cost about $6.00 a pack x 365 days comes out to $2,190. If you smoke 2 packs it is $4,380. Wow, that is a lot of money being puffed into the thin air.

  27. I was wondering what the cut off age is for earned income. My son turned 17 last year. I was told I can’t claim him anymore. I thought the cut off was 18.

      • I have the same issue, so how can I claim my 17 year old daughter who still lives at home because she isn’t an adult.

    • Surprising all the mis-information being passed around! The Child tax credit (the extra 1000 you may be entitled to for young children) is cut off when the child reached 17, so 16 is final year. Dependent credit ends when child turns 19 if no longer a student, and earning money, or 24 if in college, if parent still supporting. Earned income tax credit also follows dependent rules. A child can transition from qualifying child to qualifying relative & continue as dependent as adult, if parent is still supporting and child has very little income (amount is below personal exemption amt, which changes every year)

  28. What turbo tax product would I use having around 50,000 in retirement income for my wife and I, a rental property, and around $1k in interest income. No capital gains. Would we do income averaging as my last years income was around $280k and now falls to around $55k.

    • The age is 16. after age 16 no earned income can be claimed for the child, which is wrong but that is the way it is.

    • Same as any other year, you report your other income. look at a 1040 form and see if any of the Income section applies to you. If not–you don’t owe any taxes.

    • Since you didn’t work this year, whoever was supporting you financially should claim you on their taxes as a dependant, therefore you wouldn’t file taxes for the year.

  29. We are working really hard to become the allusive ‘debt free’ household. Seems impossible in this day and time but a goal worth working on. Something is always coming up to throw a wrench in the budget. Us working folks out here need all the assistance we can get from people like you guys that know the ‘in’s and out’s’ of keeping ahead of it all. thanks.

    • Make a budget, based on reality of your life.
      If something comes up that is not part of the budget, ask yourself: “Is this a need, or a want?” If it’s a need, you must do it, even if it means looking for a part time job for a period of time above and beyond your regular job. If it’s a want, you have one more question: “Is this something that I want so badly (to buy OR to do) that, if I don’t do it, I will become bitter?” If it is something that will cause bitterness in your life, then you’ve got the same answer as if it is a need – because no one wants to live in bitterness. If it’s something that you would really like to do or have when you can afford it, look for little ways to trim discretionary spending in your budget, and set that money aside for the day when you CAN afford this item in your budget. Sound hard? That was our situation in the fall of 1999, when our income was about to be cut by more than 50%. We decided to try it, a month or so at a time, and in fourteen years, we have not had one single thing that caused us to feel we would become bitter if we don’t do it or have it now. We have had surprises, and we now have the ability to deal with them more easily than at first. We modify the budget every year based on what our actual expenses were in the previous one. We paid our house off, our car off, we have no credit card debt – and we have savings now for unexpected medical and vet bills, major breakdown on a vehicle or appliance, and we’ve even been able to do some traveling without breaking the budget. We don’t buy anything that we don’t need in terms of household furnishings – we take care of what we have and buy only when it is actually necessary. We change that oil and do preventive maintenance type chores religiously. We have a simplified wardrobe, which we meticulously take care of. We eat most meals at home, and made mainly from “scratch.” We combine foods we really enjoy but that cost more with other foods that we really enjoy that are far less expensive – we do not sacrifice quality, but we don’t “eat steak every day,” or its equivalent. We grow a small garden and plant the things we love that are always darned expensive in the supermarket. When we find things on sale that we really love, we’ll buy a couple of extras and put them in the freezer, so that it all evens out to stay within the food budget. We go out to eat when it is a very special time of celebration in our lives, and we do not go to the cheapest place, nor do we go to the most expensive. We don’t go out to expensive “ticket” price events – but we go to beautiful places, walk the dog, enjoy nature, and we’ll buy the CD rather than spend a month’s food budget for two tickets and parking. We routinely combine all of our shopping type errands into one day a week, and we take the route that gets us to all of them with the least amount of driving so as to minimize the gas usage and the extra wear-and-tear from stop-and-go type driving. All of these little things done daily become a habit, and you don’t have to think of them all the time. The trick is, said back at the beginning – make it realistic to YOUR life’s goals, not someone else’s. We never made “big money,” not by anyone’s stretch of imagination, but I do believe we’ve made good use of the money that the good Lord has entrusted to our care in making a decent life for our family. Good luck!

      • Very well said. I have also found cooking meals together to be not only a money-saver but also fun and a great bonding experience for my husband and I. When we have our grown children, ages 28, 27,.and 24, over for dinner the whole family and their spouses cook dinner. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for any fancy dinner at a restaurant.

      • in response to Tina S

        We share meal preparation, but I do about 90% of what I call “recipe cooking.” He grills for us year-round, and I never even think of ordering anything in a restaurant that is grilled, because my husband is really, really good, and I don’t believe in spending money to buy something in a restaurant that we prepare as well as, or better than, at home! He also makes breakfast, in full, six mornings a week, and I do it on Sunday. We eat our main meal at lunchtime now that we are both retired, and supper is a lighter meal. We have only one grown son, and he and his family live about 115 miles away, and sometimes that 115 miles is extremely difficult to drive (3 mountain passes and only one way to get there), so we don’t get to share a lot of meals with them – if our daughter-in-law has prepared a meal for a get-together, we bring whatever she wants us to bring, and then as a thank-you gift to her, we do all the kitchen cleanup afterwards, before heading home. When they come down, they usually stay a night or so, in order to do shopping and other errands they need to do in a larger city, so our meals are a lot of “Gramma” fixing it quick, setting it out, and as they get up and running, grabbing what looks appealing at the moment. We have never lived beyond our means, and we have had a lot of fun in life, because we never let ourselves be suckered in by a sales pitch. I’m glad to know you are out there, too! There’s probably more of us than a lot of people realize, because we’re usually not on the news as a “picture of hard times.”

    • I hope you reach your debt free goal! As for budgets, one of the easiest and effective ones I’ve seen is the 50/20/30 -> keep your necessary expenses like food and shelter 50% or under, save 20% (emergency fund, retirement, etc) and 30% for your lifestyle (eating out, clothing, etc).

      For some families, this has been a budget that they can keep month in and out.

      As you become more comfortable, you can tweak the 30% and find ways to have fun and be yourself without spending so much so that money can be reallocated to saving more.

  30. I find the blog to be really useful since the irs has created this jungle of little rules, that it is so easy to overlook some of them. Thank you for the competent insights.

  31. I have been laid off and selling dinner in 2013 to help myself and family financial.can I total my cost for income tax,my expenses that I have in purchasing food to sell.

    • There is a place where you can list all business expenses. Make sure you have receipts for all cash purchases and are able to look up all debit/credit card purchases.

    • Hi Sandra,
      TurboTax has been open for filing since January 2. The IRS will not be accepting tax returns until January 31, but you can file with us and we will safely and securely transfer you tax return to the IRS when they open on January 31.
      Happy filing!
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  32. An all-time one, go out less to restaurants to eat, save the extra money for groceries and cook at home. Doing the math my spouse and I would spend approx. $300 on eating out a month, now we will go once a month at an avg of $40 that saves us $260 a month! We use that to get MORE groceries and just cook at home. Another great thing about this is that YOU get to control what goes into your meals therefore being able to eat healthier. Two birds, one stone!

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